Vanessa Dueck: Time Marches On

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The pandemic has distorted everyone’s sense of time, but time and life march on. Vanessa Dueck has this Perspective.

Most Saturday mornings when I was a kid, my mom would tell me to clean my room. I wasn’t allowed to come out until everything was spotless, including my dreaded clean up spaces: under the bed and in my closet: the two places I enjoyed shoving things to give the illusion of cleanliness.

I would begrudgingly head upstairs after breakfast, isolated in my room; flipping through old yearbooks, painting my nails, and occasionally, painstakingly making piles to be organized and never quite knowing how to organize them. Sometimes, I’d be in there all day the task monotonous, but the time soaring by.

Many people have been experiencing this same bizarro phenomenon with the pandemic isolation. Where have the last 14 months gone? Without set routines and social interaction, I've had a hard time creating structures that provide a familiar sense of time. Every day has started to feel like a Saturday cleaning my room.
My kids are growing and changing, but since we are never apart, I just don’t notice it.

At the beginning of the shelter in place, I began to see a new baby around my townhouse complex, carried around by his grandfather. He speaks no English, but we always seemed to be out for a short walk the same time each day, so we started waving to each other. A nice, silent, neighborly relationship developed.

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This baby has been my benchmark of the passage of time through isolation. Each time I see him, I notice him growing and changing. I watched him learn to smile at me as I waved, then months later, wave back. Yesterday in the driveway, he toddled out of his garage with his grandfather, and I saw him walk for the first time.

Over the course of the pandemic, it has been moving to watch this child blossom. My baby sundial friend reminds me that beautiful, significant things are going on outside of the vortex that has become my home. While everything seems to be standing still and passing by at the same time, babies are learning to walk past milestones. It reminds me that time still exists and we are, in fact, moving forward.

With a Perspective, I'm Vanessa Dueck.

Vanessa Dueck is a writer and aspiring elite runner in the South Bay.